by Pim van Nes
A foggy day outside in Rotterdam, but inside the city’s Topsport Centrum kids and parents felt sunshine over the four clinics by Big Leaguers from United States.
Two sons of American baseball (Curtis Granderson and Chris Dickerson) and three players from the Netherlands gave clinics on Saturday and Sunday: an idea by Dutch pitcher Rick van den Hurk and organized by his father Wim van den Hurk. This weekend Rotterdam received 560 boys and girls, including about 25 kids from Belgium. Attending the event on Saturday was Jason Holowaty, representing Major League Baseball, which together with their Players Association sponsor the European Big Leaguers Tour.
Next Saturday the Big Leaguers will appear for their first time in Paris, where the bookings were closed at the one day maximum of 400 participants. Wim van den Hurk estimates that time and space allowing, the number of registrations would have amounted to 800. A delegation from Paris visited the Rotterdam event on Saturday and told Van den Hurk, that they expect kids coming all the way from Italy and Spain to Paris. Van den Hurk also was informed, that press accreditations were requested by classy newspaper Le Monde and leading sports newspaper L’Equipe.
In Rotterdam several short “press” conferences were held by former Netherlands national team pitcher Eric de Vries, who translated questions from the kids before they were answered by the pro players in their official club uniform. Except for Curtis Granderson, who recently did not accept a new offer by his club New York Yankees, which informed the player and the Dutch organization, that Granderson was not entitled to wear the Yankees uniform during the European Tour. Since November 1 he has been free agent, alike Dutchman Roger Bernadina, who switched this year from Washington Nationals to Philadelphia Phillies.
On the other hand, Kalian Sams told Mister-Baseball.com that last Saturday he received his 2014 contract from his club Texas Rangers. Sams, who RBI-ed the Netherlands national team from Tokyo to WBC final round in San Francisco, looks forward to meet his compatriot Jurickson Profar in spring training camp next year, but is rostered to play in Double or Triple A for the Rangers.
Rick van den Hurk this year shared in the three national championships clinched by Dutch players abroad: Xander Bogaerts with his Boston Red Sox in USA, Andruw Jones with his Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan and Rick van den Hurk with his Samsung Lions in South-Korea. Van den Hurk informed to be proud and happy with his Lions success this year, but also to be contacted by six Major League clubs in the States and a club in Japan.
Photo by Henk Seppen